Adventure Vault Talks Blackest Night

Almost one year later, the longest night ever in the DC Universe has finally come to an end with Blackest Night #8. I wouldn’t call what I’m writing a review, so much as my thoughts on what happened, but mostly I want to examine where I feel the DC Universe is going. I’ll be referencing the events of the story and its tie-in books, so reader be warned: Thar be SPOILERS ahead.

I remember, before Final Crisis, that Blackest Night was going to be a mini-series that dealt with the Green Lantern Corps. Then, it seemed that the folks at DC realized they could basically create the equivalent of printing their own money if they developed it into yet another companywide crossover. Now, this isn’t a bad thing. Story wise it makes complete sense. On a personal level, I enjoy large encompassing stories, when they are done well. Was this one done well? No, not in my opinion. Sure, the Lantern books pulled it off well, but none of the other DC books seemed to matter. Dead friends and enemies showed up, a DC character would fight them and fail, then have to find a way to either escape or get rid of the Black Lantern. On most of these accounts, the Blackest Night tie-in was meaningless to the overarching Blackest Night series and to the character’s own book. These tie-ins were more of a speed bump, interrupting an already in progress story. All of them but one, R.E.B.E.L.S., seemed to have difficulty fitting in seamlessly. And few, if any, were fun stories in-it-of-themselves.

Furthermore, the popular thing in comics these days seems to be that encompassing companywide crossovers don’t end, but rather have a bunch of little faux endings and epilogues that are really just prologues to the next story. This happens at both major companies. Marvel has Civil War, and all that it has become. DC has their Lantern Wars. It’s a genius way to make money. Labeling something as special, charging higher prices, and enticing folks to see what “universe shattering” event will happen next.

I know this isn’t entirely something new, but it’s also different then the crossovers of old. Back in the day, I used to buy these huge crossovers because I thought the story sounded interesting. I still do. That’s why I bought Blackest Night, because I was intrigued by the premise. I didn’t expect anything from the stories other then entertainment and a meaningful story, and that’s what I used to get. When I say “meaningful”, I’m not talking about huge battles or the death of a hero. I simply want stories that I can connect to on an emotional level. My all time favorite crossovers are still DC One Million and Final Night. Those stories are the epitome of what I look for in a crossover. They were fun, enjoyable, and an emotional read. Also, most or all of the connecting minor titles worked cohesively with the main books. Sure, I didn’t have to know what the insane Azreal of the 853rd Century was doing, or that the Ray futily tried to keep a small town in Mexico from freezing to death, but reading them enriched the overall experience and feel of what was happening. I didn’t get that feeling from most of the Blackest Night tie-in titles.

Blackest Night did have some great moments. (Here are those Spoilers, folks.) I like the idea of the new Lantern Corps. Atrocitus and Larfleeze have easily become two of my favorite characters from the series. I also enjoyed the deputizing of the other DC characters. Scarecrow, Wonder Woman, Luthor, Atom, Flash were all perfect (thought not always used correctly), and I know I’m not alone when I say I’ve gained new respect for Mera. She’s a character that, until now, has never even come close to her true potential. Also, how can anyone forget the death and resurrection of Kyle? Natu, Guy, Kilowog, and even Mogo embodied the great feelings those scenes were evoking. That was one of the most powerful moments in the entire crossover. Too bad it wasn’t in the main book.

That’s how I felt about the main book most of the time, like something was missing. Sure, it had its own cool moments, but they never seemed to play out to fruition. Like Sinestro taking charge of all the other Lanterns, telling Jordan to take a seat and let a professional handle this Crisis. Yet, in the end, when he had the power of the White Lantern, he couldn’t help but monologue himself to near death, giving Hal the chance to come in and save the day. I know more than a few Sinestro fans who were excited by Blackest Night #7 only to be let down in Blackest Night #8.

And no matter how cool the events of Blackest Night turned out, it’s a bad sign when the reader can guess the ending of a story before the first act is over. Show of hands everyone. Who here thought that Hal was going to be the White Lantern and defeat Nekron? Yeah, me too. So what was the point of what I just read? Why couldn’t Sinestro actually be the hero of this story? Wouldn’t that make for a more interesting dynamic after all is said and done? Will he simple resume his place as a common Hal rogue now that all is said and done?

Then, there’s probably the most disappointing moment of the entire series, bad tie-ins included. The death of Nekron. It was the one thing I don’t think any of us expected. Hal becomes the White Lantern. Check. Takes on Nekron. Check. And… roughly one splash page later it’s all over? Nekron brought the universe to to its knees, but was defeated so quickly that I actually read past it the first time not realizing that that was the resolution. I got a page or so past the giant fold out distraction and had to go back because I thought I missed something. The battle was neither epic nor emotional. More time was given to the outcome, to the epilogue, to the next story, than the resolution of this one. There aren’t very many times I can say this. I realize these books exist so that someone can make money off of them. But that just left me feeling shortchanged. Who needs a meaningful conclusion when the story is never truly over? Brightest Day starts next month, there’s no time to waste getting to it. In the end, I felt like Geoff Johns took a year’s worth of buildup and anticipation and crammed the ending of Blackest Night into a short throwaway sequence in a rush to begin setting up for Brightest Day.

That leads me to my final pontification. Where is DC going? Like I said, I realize DC Comics is a business and that it’s crucial they get us to buy the next book. But what about the creative side? Isn’t part of selling books about telling stories? Doesn’t that go hand-in-hand? I believe when a writer does tell a poignant and well-written tale, that the masses will want to give him money for it. They will return time and again, not to see what cataclysmic event is “changing things forever”, but because there are characters and stories they connect to on a personal and emotional level. I get the feeling DC isn’t thinking about quality as much as they are looking for the next big thing to break the sales charts.

In ten years, people will still be reading Sandman, Starman, & Watchmen. Stories like those are marathon runners. They weren’t just popular at the time, they aged and became better known. Their fan bases are still expanding years later. People will be lending and telling their friends about them for years to come. Stories like that will impact future comic book readers that haven’t been born yet. Will Blackest Night have that same effect? Or will it just be the story they read in between Sinestro Corps War and Brightest Day? Time will tell.

18 thoughts on “Adventure Vault Talks Blackest Night

  1. Great article. I agree with a lot of the points you made about the effectiveness of the tie-ins. They all had the same basic story and ended with the Black Lanterns rushing off to Coast City for the final battle. I ridiculously bought them all and feel kind of like a sucker for it; but, not nearly as much as those poor s.o.b.s that are buying all of the Siege

    I think Blackest Night worked for what it was. It managed to resurrect some fan favorite characters and helped showcase the different Corps. Its effects will be felt for a while (Johns says all the reborn characters are back for a reason) and I did enjoy its epic scale a lot more than recent Marvel events. It just would have been a lot nicer if even ONE out of the tons of mini-series and tie-ins actually changed the status quo.

    1. I agree. It seems like the biggest change to the status quo is the fact that Deadman is no longer dead. Everything else is just a resetting of what used to be.

  2. I’ll agree with you on the tie-ins, but the main story was spectacular.

    First, the comparison to stories like Watchmen and Starman is inherently flawed. Those were complete stories with endings. Starman ran for five years, but it all went according to Robinson’s plan, and ended appropriately. Blackest Night was always intended to be a part of the giant ongoing story of the DCU that Didio, Morrison, Johns, et al. are working on. That’s what comics should be – one giant evolving universe. To not like that is to not like the very fabric of comics. It’s like watching soap operas and being frustrated with the lack of resolution. They are what they are. If you don’t like it, then I humbly suggest you might not be looking in the right place for things you do like.

    Second, DC One Million played directly off of Rock of Ages and it ended setting up for World War III, so I don’t know why you’re holding it up as an example of what Blackest Night should have done. You should go back and check out 1 million, the stories are very similar.

    1. “That’s what comics should be – one giant evolving universe. To not like that is to not like the very fabric of comics. It’s like watching soap operas and being frustrated with the lack of resolution.”

      ok sir, not trying to call you out, but this is patently false… yes, the comic is an ever evolving organism, but stories end. take an example from real life for a moment… if they were making a comic about you, there could be a really cool epic storyline when you’re in grade school… but grade school ends. the comic continues w/ you in high school, and we can tell tons of cool adventures in high school… but high school ends. you get your first joe job and you’re bagging groceries for the evil overlord, dr moleyass… but eventually, you change jobs. see where i’m at here? you can kill characters, you can work major epic storylines, but at the end of the day, if the journey wasn’t worth anything, and things are as they were, it was masturbation. you HAVE to change to have evolution, and part of change is enbracing the necessary cessation of things. all things in the universe are impermanent, even in comics… it’s important to change things. to end one thing and develop something new.

      AV’s frustrations are precisely why i stopped reading comics in the late 90’s… you can only read so many “epic events that will change everything” and yet change nothing before you become the dumbass paying for others to beat you off… i can beat myself off just fine and save my 3.50 a month, thanks.

      1. Stories have endings all the time. Blackest Night ended when Nekron was defeated and the heroes were returned. Comics are revolving, it’s their nature. Trying to read the main DC or Marvel titles while looking for “the journey is the destination” comics is similar to beating your head against a wall.

        And, clearly, that’s not for you. I’m glad you figured it out, but there’s no need to look down on those you left behind.

      2. Quit comics entirely? C’mon back into the fold! If you wanna read some good superhero yarns that actual leave lasting changes in a book, I highly recommend Invincible from Image Comics. 🙂

        1. can’t do it friend… i was betrayed by todd mcfarlane and won’t come back. i don’t know if you kids recall this, but when image was getting launched and spawn was getting all the press in the world cuz mcf was to comics what orel hershiser was to baseball (i’ll wait, go google it…) he repeatedly told this story about spawn was a finite hero, he would be given only so much power and then he’d have to rely on his wits, and he’s definitely die and the series would definitely end. i got 86 issues into that miasma before deciding that whether or not it came true in the future, me in the present was quitting the overwrought drivel that spawn had become.

          for me, creating is so much fulfilling than reading that that’s just how it goes… for a while, i wanted to get into comics, so i drew a TON… and just recently, i’ve gotten back into drawing, and it’s still fun. i still write, and i do all kinds of backstory elements w/ my figure collection (just ask a few of the IAT stalwarts how many times i’ve bored them w/ stories of tri-klops fighting style or something) and again, that’s more rewarding to me than the perpetual spin of the tires that comics has become. just recently, you guys got a new batman… enjoy that, it’ll be bruce again before 2011, i’ll stake big money. why? because drake doesn’t work? no. because the books’ sales go down? no. the reason is, the change was only cosmetic to trick you into buying the book, and the next change and the next will be too… bruce wayne will be batman until the end of time because comic writers fear evolution. evolution requires a commitment, commitment requires investment, and there’s nothing a comic company that’s been selling a book for 50 plus years fears more than investing money and comitting good resources to an evolution that MIGHT backfire. so rather than take a chance on something new and better, they stick w/ what they know. sounds like a domestic abuse scenario more than a comic book, doesn’t it? plus, i’m old enough that increased costs, as the quality of the work i’m buying has decreased, are simply unacceptable. ever wonder why your dad quit comics? same reasons i did.

          not that i disparage you guys who are still collecting… i hope if brings you many more hours of joy that the exacerbated rants on the internet would imply… but i can’t wait to see the world when you get frsutrated by the lack of forward moment and decide to get creative and start driving your own trains to comic town or novel town or whathaveyou… that excites me a lot. until then, wake me up when the punisher starts killing insurance CEO’s who are ordering policies to avoid extending benefits for pre-existing conditions… that’s a fantasy i might buy into.

          1. dude. a little tmi in your posts.
            btw, I gave up on all Image before the second year. I only went back for Rising Stars.

            also, I don’t follow Batman, but I’m pretty sure it’s GRAYSON under the cowl, not Drake aka RED Robin, last I heard.

    2. I agree that One Million is based on Rock of Ages, and had a slight effect on the universe afterward. But One Million in itself is a stand alone crossover. Blackest Night technically began with Rebirth, continued through Sinestro Corps Wars, and goes on into Brightest Day. A friend of mine who doesn’t read much DC borrowed Blackest Night, and I had to explain things about the characters and events from those previous chapters so he wouldn’t be as confused. When you’re given One Million or Final Night, you pretty much have everything you need to know.

      Also, I don’t really see a problem with comparing events like this to things like Sandman. We all do it, compare what we are reading with what we love. If we don’t hold things to high standards, then all we’ll get is low quality. Ultimately though, those standards change on the person. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying Blackest Night. I enjoyed most of it myself. I just felt the ending was more of a rush to the next thing than a satisfying closure to a chapter.

      1. Not to disparage your friend, perhaps they have an inquiring mind, but Blackest Night didn’t rely heavily on the previous comics other then using the characters from them, and their backstories were given. It is part of a “GL Saga” but just as Sinestro Corps War, it can be read as it’s own leg of the story or with the others.

        Just as One Million can be read alone despite taking unexplained plot points from Rock of Ages and using it’s last handful of pages to setup the JLA stores to come, World War III.

        The ending of Blackest Night did spend a lot of time with the returned characters, but I was happy it did that. I know DC is trying to get us signed up for the next thing, but they gave us Mera and Arthur reuniting, Barry lamenting the Dibnys, Carter and Shiera, the Firestorms at odds, Deadman’s return, etc, at the end of this story. It was very organic and needed to be there. Yes, then came the epilogues where they try to sell you the next thing, but again, that’s comics.

  3. I’m a big fan of Blackest Night. I didn’t pick up all that many of the tie-ins and while some of them weren’t so great others were pretty good I thought (the Flash issues were good). Some of the resurrected “dead” series were pretty cool too (especially Starman).

    I’m excited about the future of the DCU. There definitely feels like things are going to be moving in ways that they didn’t after Final Crisis. Batman has one of the best books on the stands and his upcoming through-time mini should be good, Superman/Action/Wonder Woman are getting new writers, Flash is restarting, Brightest Day brings some characters to the forefront and hopefully will springboard them to the future (Aquaman, the Hawks, Mera, Firestorm).

    1. I’m really interested to see what they are going to do with those new characters. Mera being the one I’ll probably watch most.

      1. I have high hopes that Mera and Aquaman become the high point of Brightest Day and once it is done next year can launch out a new Aquaman ongoing. People knock Aquaman, but when done well he can be just as good as many other characters (see JMS on his recent Brave and the Bold issue featuring Aquaman or the beginning of the run of his 1990s comic which was pretty great too). I also have hopes for Firestorm as I feel like he should be a character who could take a spotlight in the DCU as he was able to successfully have a solo series for almost the entire 1980s.

  4. I’m just glad Mera and Hawkgirl are back to normal. As soon as Hawkgirl and sexy Hawkman died, I threw the comic away and started getting torrents instead 😀

  5. The thing about the “Big events” that I hate the most is:
    These big events are supposed to shake the core of the characters/universe and change things. By the time it’s over the changes are swept under the rug for the next “Big event” to start and shake the very core of the characters and “breaking the internet in half”

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